Adding to a wave of recent films made for an older generation (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Le Week-end, Song for Marion, Quartet) and cashing in on the ‘grey pound‘ is this sweet but boring Paris-set rom-com, starring Kevin Kline as a broke divorcee, who inherits a house in Paris but finds that it’s a “Viager”, meaning that he must rent the house from the owner until they die. He moves in with the current owners, 90-year-old Mathilde (Dame Maggie Smith) and her daughter (Kristen Scott Thomas). While deciding whether or not to sell his share of the property, he learns about his father’s secret past and forms a friendship with the family and their neighbours.
First-time director Israel Horovitz makes a decent effort at adaptation his own play, although the comedy is tame and limited to American faux pas and culture clash. This is most evident with Maggie Smith’s ‘jokes’ – usually a scene-stealing showstopper in Downton, Smith barely raises a chuckle out of her lines here.
The same could be said of Scott Thomas, who’s usually on top form, but isn’t given enough substance here for her to show off her many talents. It is left to comic actor Kevin Kline (Last Vegas, A Fish Called Wanda) to pull out physical comedy jokes, which leave him looking more like a buffoon than a charismatic lead.
Despite its tame-ness all round, My Old Lady could be favoured by an older audience for its pretty Parisian settings and twinkly piano music, coupled with a respectful romance (1 kiss) and a family history sub-plot. Without wishing to generalize about the film tastes of the over 65s, it is this very kind of inoffensive filmmaking that will do well on DVD or in matinee screenings.
My Old Lady will be released in UK cinemas on November 21.